Ellsworth's Extraordinary Electric Ears and Other Amazing Alphabet Anecdotes
by Valorie Fisher
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Tired of plain vanilla ABC books? Apple, ball, cat... Here's a witty charmer that you'll like as much--if not more--as your kids do. Valorie Fisher's Ellsworth's Extraordinary Electric Ears features a single, perfectly arranged diorama in homage to every letter. Plastic figurines, paper cutouts, tiny clay sculptures, and artfully repurposed everyday objects (see Holly's "humble handbag home") populate each cheery scene, all filled to bursting with items beginning with the designated letter.
Buy Ellsworth's Extraordinary Electric Ears and Other Amazing Alphabet Anecdotes
On the "C" page, there are at least 20 different things beginning with the letter "C". Even better than the silly tableaux are the breathless alliterations accompanying each scene. Just try to read them without adding aural italics and exclamation points galore: "Nigel's nifty newspaper neckties were nothing but a naughty nuisance," "Vacationing in the valley of a violent volcano was very invigorating for Violet," and "Zelda's zigzagged zebra was the zippiest at the zoo" are among the best.
The book is beautifully suited both to very young kids who are in full noun-acquisition mode as well as to older children who've become adept at matching images and words beginning with specific letters. For example, the "L" page features several items a toddler could pick out--lion, ladder, lemons--without fully understanding that these things are grouped together because they start with the same letter. There are also less readily named items in the picture: a llama, a laundry basket, and a locomotive. And then there's the book's grownup appeal: "Pepita's pink paper parasols were particularly popular with pirates." Check out all the swarthy, half-dressed pirate figurines clutching paper drink umbrellas and see how long it takes you to start planning a theme party around your favorite letter of the alphabet. (Ages 2 to 6)